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Turkish planes hit rebel targets in Iraq

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071216/ap_on_re_mi_ea/turkey_iraq_kurds;_ylt=AjK5mZNUcZ8It23eD2jg6HCs0NUE Turkish planes hit rebel targets in Iraq By SUZAN
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2007

      Turkish planes hit rebel targets in Iraq

      By SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 57
      minutes ago

      ANKARA, Turkey - Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish rebel
      targets in northern Iraq early Sunday, Turkey's
      military said, the first such attack since the
      U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. An Iraqi official said the
      planes attacked several villages, killing one woman.

      Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek urged Kurdish
      separatists to surrender and said Turkey would press
      ahead with operations against rebel bases in northern
      Iraq "with determination when necessary."

      The attack came a month after the United States
      promised to share intelligence with Turkey about the
      Kurdistan Workers Party, which seeks autonomy for the
      Kurdish minority in southeastern Turkey and has
      hideouts in northern Iraq.

      But the U.S. and Iraq have urged Turkey to avoid a
      major operation against PKK bases in northern Iraq for
      fear of destabilizing the most stable region in the
      country. Turkey has massed tens of thousands of
      Turkish troops along the border with Iraq amid a
      series of attacks by Kurdish insurgents.

      The fighter jets hit rebel close to the border with
      Turkey and in Qandil mountain further away from the
      frontier, the military said in a statement on its Web
      site. It said the operation was directed against the
      PKK and not against the local population.

      All planes returned to their bases safely and the army
      continued firing on the targets with long-range
      weapons, the military said. Artillery units fired
      shells toward Iraq from the town of Cukurca, where the
      borders of Turkey, Iran and Iraq meet, footage from
      the private Dogan news agency showed.

      Private NTV television said some 50 warplanes were
      involved in the airstrikes, taking off from bases in
      eastern and western Turkey.

      It was Turkey's first confirmed attack with fighter
      jets against rebel targets across the border since the
      2003 invasion of Iraq. Last month, Iraqi officials
      said Turkish helicopter gunships attacked abandoned
      villages inside Iraq.

      A top Iraqi official said Turkish warplanes bombarded
      10 Kurdish villages, killing one woman and injuring
      two others.

      Abdullah Ibrahim, a top local official in the
      administrative center of Sangasar, acknowledged that
      there were Kurdish rebel bases in the area, but said
      they were far from the villages that were hit.

      "The villagers are now scared and are hiding in nearby
      caves. They lost all their properties," Ibrahim said.

      An Iraqi army officer with the border guard said the
      attack began about 2:30 a.m. on three villages in
      Iraq's Qandil mountain chain, where Turkish and
      Iranian Kurdish rebels are based. The officer spoke on
      condition of anonymity because he was not authorized
      to release the information.

      The villages are scattered in the Qandil mountains,
      some as far as an hour's drive apart over steep roads
      and paths. The region that was attacked was about 105
      miles from the Turkish border.

      The Turkish military vowed to press ahead with
      operations against the PKK "according to military
      needs with determination."

      Earlier this month, the military said it fired on a
      group of about 50 to 60 PKK guerrillas inside Iraqi
      territory, inflicting "significant losses."

      Turkish forces have periodically shelled suspected
      rebel positions across the Iraqi border, and have
      sometimes carried out "hot pursuits" — limited raids
      on the Iraqi side that sometimes last only a few hours.
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